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India Ink

wood finishing

by Alan Noel
Professional Wood Finisher



India ink has been around for thousands of years dating back to the 3rd Millennium BC in China. Somewhere along the way China began importing the materials from India to make india ink thus the term "india ink" was coined. By simply mixing together a combination of lampblack for pigment, water as a carrier and a small amount of shellac to act as a binder, the result is india ink. Of course, india ink can be bought at any hobby and craft store ready for use.

India ink has been used to decorate furniture, especially inlays for quite sometime. Here are some tips:

  1. The surface should be completely sealed to prevent absorption of the ink by the wood and migrating to other areas.
  2. Use the ink for defining inlay work such as leaves, wood graining, pin striping etc.
  3. The ink, once dry, should be topcoated for protection against wear.
  4. I use a spray can of gloss lacquer or Seal Coat to lightly coat the ink.
  5. If bought ready made be sure to check out the binder used.
  6. If the binder is unknown, use shellac as a sealer.
  7. Pens for india ink can be purchased at hobby stores.
  8. After all is sealed, lighty sand entire surface and topcoat.
  9. A lttle practice REALLY goes a long way on a properly sealed surface.


Visiting Atlanta? Attend one of Alan's upcoming highly informative Highland Woodworking wood finishing seminars:


February 12, 2014   Finishing the Finish
March 26, 2014   Coloring Wood
March 29, 2014   Finishing 101



Visit Highland Woodworking's Online
Wood Finishing Supplies Department




Alan can be reached directly via email c/o Alan Noel Furniture Refinishing at anoelfurniturere@bellsouth.net.


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